Eric Peddy (31) of the Chicago White Sox, who is now back in the Major League, sweated at a private training center in Arizona, the U.S., right after signing a contract with the NC Dinosaurs in 2023. He not only reshaped his body systematically but also changed his pitching repertoire.
The key was the recent trend of sweeper in Major League Baseball. Pedi was a pitcher who threw sinkers, curves, cutters, and changeups until 2022. He mainly used crystal balls with curves, but Pedi thought he needed to hone other pitches. And what caught Pedi’s eye was the sweeper. It was a little slower than the slider, but its horizontal movement was bigger, which was advantageous in inducing swings and misses.
In the past, there were some players who threw sliders that moved horizontally significantly. However, unlike sliders that use four-seam grips, sweeper players usually hold two-seam grips and throwers. The speed of pitches is also quite different. As a technique to distinguish sweeper from slider was introduced in the Major League in 2021, the technique gained popularity as well. It was obviously a strange pitch in the KBO League. Peddy used this ball to bomb the KBO League.
Pedi’s sweeper was faster than the curve, but slower than the slider, and the trajectory was different from both the curve and the slider. In addition, the wrist has its own angle. It was natural that KBO League hitters who did not see this trajectory well did not cope well. Not only his colleagues, NC players, but also other team players, asked Pedi for his sweeper grip or know-how.
Of course, sweeper is not an all-around pitcher. Throwing a pitch to other hand hitters is tricky because of the risk of hitting the body. Shohei Ohtani, who actually uses sweeper the most, has seen a significant increase in hits. If there is no completeness, it is easy to give balls to. Coincidentally, both of the new foreign players that Kia recruited are equipped with sweeper. And it is a type of pitch that can be thrown at a critical moment. Attention is focusing on whether it will settle down or not.
Will Crowe, who is drawing the most attention among foreign players this year due to his stellar career in the Major League, started to throw sweeper in earnest in 2023. Like Pedi around the same time, he started experimenting with popular pitches in the league. According to Baseball Servant, Crowe’s ratio of sweeper pitches in 2023 was 12.8%. Compared to other pitches such as sliders and changeups, his pitching ratio decreased, but that of right-handed hitters increased to 17.2 percent. Sliders are standard, while right-handed hitters are sweeper and left-handed ones are changeups.
As Crow pitched quite a few sweeper pitches in 2023, it is time to get a feel for it. Crow’s sweeper was powerful enough to draw 46.2 percent of swing and miss rate against right-handed hitters last year. Once the bat was pulled out, half of it was swing and miss. Crow’s sweeper has 2.6 times horizontal movement compared to slider, which can be distinguished with the naked eye. There is a high possibility that it will be used as a deciding tool against right-handed hitters this year as well.
James Nail, another foreign pitcher, 꽁머니 also throws a sweeper. Although there were not many specific samples caught last year in the Major League, he drew two-seam fastballs and sweeper as the balls he was most confident in. Analysts say that Nail learned how to sweepers while overcoming his weaknesses. Nail, who played as a bullpen pitcher for a long time, is not a versatile player. He was practically a two-pitch player with two-seam and curveballs. However, it can be said that the starter needed more pitching and picked a sweeper that could be paired with a curve.
Nail has to solve his homework of adapting himself to the starting pitcher, but many say that he is quite strong in terms of pitching capability in the KBO League. If Swiper moves precisely at home plate, he may be a good match for sinker pitcher. With a relatively low ratio of swing and miss, if Swiper makes up for this, chances are high that he will show better-than-expected performance. The two players who joined Canberra camp in Australia showed off their normal physical conditions by pitching 35 bullpen sessions side by side from the start.